The Roar
The Roar


With the grand final around the corner, the NRL is in poor shape

David Smith is on his way out. (AAP Image/Paul Miller)
Roar Pro
21st September, 2015
1472 Reads

This is a really sad moment for me. I have finally realised – and finally accepted – those in charge of the game’s future have begun to destroy it.

How many other fans feel the same way?

The more technology improves our lives, the more it ruins our game. I see the advantage of HD broadcasts, the slow motion replays, the multiple camera angles, and yes in the end these are just tools and resources. It is how these advanced tools and resources are used that I call to question.

The rushed rule changes to keep up with the modern physical contest are all too late and woefully inadequate.

When is a shoulder charge a shoulder charge?

They are still tinkering with the adjustments late into the season and yet – in real time the players are the ones who have to suffer the consequences when they don’t comply with the current week’s interpretation.

I’ve seen three Roosters players put in shoulder charges under the explanation in the NRL’s video feed that explains what a shoulder charge is.

Yet – not one of the three players mentioned below have been placed on report of faced the judiciary. The incidents began in Rd 25 in the Broncos v Roosters game.

1. Rd 25 – Roosters v Broncos
Dylan Napa hits Alex Glenn in the jaw with his leading shoulder – he was one of three tacklers in the tackle. Glenn immediately felt for his jaw but play on was called. The matter was never review during the broadcast despite the replay showing Napa’s shoulder coming into contact with Glenn’s head.


In the same game, Kane Evans tried a shoulder charge on Justin Hodges – it went wrong for Evans as he concussed himself – and yet Evan’s shoulder still managed to make contact with Hodges’ head. It was the same result, the matter went unreported and no charges were laid.

3. Rd 26 – Souths v Roosters
Sam Moa runs out of the line at Glen Stewart, Stewart passes the ball and after the ball was released Moa’s arm and shoulder come into contact with Stewart’s head as he tried to protect himself from the hit. Stewart goes off concussed and the play goes on with no stoppage.

The judiciary found no reason to charge Moa.

4. Week 2 finals
In the game Roosters versus Bulldogs, Dylan Napa put on a shoulder charge that came into contact with the upper body of Greg Eastwood. Eastwood stays down and the replay shows the shoulder charge but the referees do nothing and order ‘play on’.

When this rule change originally happened it was in the back of the Greg Inglis versus Dean Young incident. You know what, I agree with the rule but what the NRL have done is enact a rule that favours the attacking side.

The player carrying the ball is allowed to shoulder charge at the defence. How is a defence supposed to respond when a large forward runs at the line with the ball tucked into a shoulder all ready to lead into the oncoming player(s) attempting to tackle him?

They have got this rule change so wrong and players are the ones in harms way.

Amongst all this, the judicary went out of their way to view off-field video to charge George Burgess with a contary conduct charge for an incident where he underarmed a drink bottle at an opposing player walking from the field – whether it was full, half full, or empty has not been disclosed. He gets two weeks during the finals.


At the most important end of the season the NRL introduced its most recent amendment to this shoulder charge rule after the Kane Evans hit on Sam Kasiano.

A hit we all must agree on was representative of the old style physical contact, with big men being big men and using their size and strength to repel/charge over all before them.

And to further add to my distaste, I find this week as I tuned in to watch the after-game press conferences that I now have to wait for a commercial to play.

How does the advertising revenue from these clips enhance a fan’s interest in hearing what coaches have to say?

And the biggest and most distasteful intrusion of all is the sports betting agencies’ finding a way to intrude into our lounge rooms in front of children to ply their slick gambling promos.

Despite the required ‘gamble responsibly’ slogans, when does the fan get to have a say on whether he or she wants any part of being exposed to gambling options?

If this were tobacco or alcohol advertising and in front of the kids – i.e. during PG rated programs – do you think the governments and their regulators would have any part of it?

Gambling income across all state government budgets represents a crucial part of their revenue stream. Do you think vested interests are at play here?


Here is a comment from the NRL site re their ‘Sports Betting’ link:

“The NRL recognises that gambling is an enjoyable and common recreational pursuit for many Australians. The NRL is an active participant in policy discussions in supporting responsible gambling programs, strong Codes of Conduct for sports and uniform anti-corruption legislation in Australia.”

If the only thing the NRL is concerned about is ‘corruption’ and the insider aspect of NRL and Sports betting, then they have fallen way short of their ‘duty of care’ obligations. Exposing children who love and play this game to any idea that gambling responsibly is OK, tells us that they don’t respect the PG rating televised games receive.

Surely with the known gambling addicts among our players, any publicised link with agencies under a sponsorship arrangement, is inviting law suits down the line.

Can you imagine the question to a gambling addict: when did you first become exposed to sports betting and in particular betting on rugby league?

When I was watching rugby league games on the TV.

This is such an obvious consequence for exposing youth to gambling habits when they are yet to understanding that gambling is about disposable income, not a way for most people to make an income, and especially when many of the youth players playing the game who go onto NRL, never have another permanent job before they join the NRL.

And again to emphasis the point, the administrators of our game measure their success off the money they have earned and the reserves they hold. The clubs and players who generate the product are rewarded but only in an after the fact way.